OkoumeFest: A Boatbuilders' Rendezvous

Location: Chesapeake Light Craft, Annapolis, Maryland
Dates: Friday, May 19, 2017 - Saturday, May 20, 2017


Friday, May 19th: Open House in Annapolis
Saturday, May 20th: Boat Demos on Kent Island

Mark your calendars, wooden boat lovers and builders: Chesapeake Light Craft will present its 19th annual small boat rendezvous on Friday and Saturday, May 19-20, 2017.

Chesapeake Triple & Skerry"Okoume" is the plantation-grown African hardwood used in tens of thousands of CLC's build-your-own-boat kits.  OkoumeFest features an open house with technical seminars on Friday at the CLC plant in Annapolis, and on Saturday an on-the-water rendezvous at Matapeake State Park on Kent Island.  This event is RAIN OR SHINE.  Please note that if thunderstorms are detected nearby we'll bring the boats off the water.

The Friday seminars are useful and interesting, but the highlight of OkoumeFest always comes on Saturday, when we bring virtually everything in our shop over to the beach at Matapeake for our friends to paddle, row, sail, and generally put through their paces. We also welcome fellow boatbuilders, who bring their beautifully built watercraft to show and compete for best-in-show honors. 

This event also is a special chance to try some of the boats, like PocketShip, we can't usually take on the road with us, and some that are new designs, like the Outrigger Junior and the exciting Waterlust Sailing Canoe. Attendance is free on both days this year, but please register so that we can plan for the hordes. 

More than 300 people joined us for last year's OkoumeFest, not only to attend boatbuilding seminars or have a test run in one of CLC’s 55 demonstrator boats, but also to show off boats they had built themselves.  CLC offers awards to amateur-built boats, many of which took hundreds of hours to build and look like exotic furniture. The event draws small boat aficionados from as far away as New England, Florida, and the west coast.

OkoumeFest 2016 RecapWatch the video below to learn more about the event.


Returning to OkoumeFest 2017: The CLC Teardrop Camper!
CLC Teardrop Camper Divider
Bring your boat! Bring your homebuilt boat to the beach on Saturday, and enter it to win one of many prizes.  Our annual craftsmanship competition is light-hearted and fun, but the prizes are real and worth hundreds of dollars.  Judging starts at 3pm.  


Keep scrolling for a brief overview of OkoumeFest 2017.  The event is FREE, and spreads over two days:

Friday is an open house at our shop here in Annapolis, beginning at 1pm. Throughout the afternoon we'll have shop tours, boatbuilding demonstrations and seminars---a reception with food and drink will begin around 5pm. 
We'll also be blowing out a lot of old and new inventory at the shop on Friday.  We'll have great deals on boat kits, supplies, and gear.  
Watch this space for a detailed seminar schedule!


On Saturday we move across the Bay to Matapeake, a lovely park on Kent Island.

  • 9:00: On-water demos begin
    All day, kids boatbuilding on the beach!
  • 3:00: Judging for awards begins
  • 4:00: Awards, including Best Smallcraft, Best Kayak, and Best in show 
  • 5:00: Pack up

With a huge sandy beach, there is room for everyone to spread out.  The kids will love the place.  We have a special table just for the little ones, with free boat models they can assemble and decorate themselves.

From 9am to 5pm---weather permitting---you can try out our fleet of boat kits on the water, meet other builders, or launch your own boat.  Yes, PocketShip will be there, too.

Hundreds of dollars of prizes for folks who bring their own boats!

Bring your homebuilt boat to the beach on Saturday, and enter it to win one of many prizes.  Our annual craftsmanship competition is light-hearted and fun, but the prizes are real and worth hundreds of dollars:

Important Notes to Plan for Saturday:

  • Bring your own picnic lunch or grab food at the Matapeake Cafe onsite. The Cafe will be offering a variety of hot and cold sandwiches, pizza, snacks, and beverages.
  • Bring your own Paddles & Life Jackets. We'll have lots of gear for in-water trials, but you can help us keep the lines down by bringing your own.
  • The hill from the unloading area to the beach is significant.  If you are bringing smallcraft or a large kayak, you'll be glad that you brought your dolly
  • If you are trailering a larger craft like PocketShip, you'll need to use the Matapeake Launch Ramp, shown on the map here. If you park your vehicle and trailer at the ramp, there's a nominal fee.

As always, we'll be handing out prizes in various categories:  Best Kayak, Best SmallcraftBest in Show, and a few more.  Whether you enter your boat or not, don't miss this unique celebration of small wooden boats.

See you there!  (If you can't make it, check for updates on our Facebook page)

Map & Directions:

GPS users can find us at OkoumeFest by plugging in the following addresses. 

Friday at the CLC Shop:
Chespeake Light Craft
1805 George Avenue
Annapolis, Maryland 21401 

Saturday at the Beach:Fun on the water at OkoumeFestMatapeake State Park
201 Clubhouse Drive
Stevensville, Maryland 21666 

To get to Matapeake from Annapolis, take Route 50 Eastbound across the Chesapeake Bay Bridge and get off at the first exit on Kent Island (exit 37 - Route 8).  Turn right on Route 8 and follow it South for about two miles.  This map will guide you the rest of the way (click to enlarge):

OkoumeFest Map

There are numerous lodging options on either side of bay: Annapolis Accommodations  Kent Island Accommodations  Camping at Matapeake

The OkoumeFest 2016 Boat List (for reference):

Here is a partial selection of the boats that we had on the beach for demos in 2016 -- expect a similar lineup for 2017. 
Kayaks & Paddleboards: 
Chesapeake sea kayaks (14 to 21 feet) 
Wood Duck recreational kayaks (10 to 14 feet) 
Mill Creek recreational kayaks / decked canoes (13 to 16 feet) 
Shearwater West-Greenland sea kayaks (14 to 18 feet) 
Sea Island Sport sit-on-top kayaks (15 feet) 
Stitch-and-Glue Night Heron performance sea kayak (18 feet) 
Night Heron High Deck strip-planked performance sea kayak (18 feet) 
Petrel strip-planked performance sea kayak (17 feet) 
Petrel Play stitch & glue sea kayak (14 feet)
Matunuck surf kayak (8 feet) 
Kaholo Stand-Up Paddleboard (12'6" and 14 feet) 
...and more 
Sassafras 12 pack canoe (12 feet, only 26 pounds!) 
Sassafras 16 canoe 
Nymph strip-planked canoes (10 and 12 feet)
. . .and more 
Rowing and Sailing Craft:
Southwester Dory rowing-sailing expedition Dory (19 feet)
* Noank Pulling Boat strip-planked sliding-seat rower (18 feet)
* Outrigger Junior sailboat (15 feet)
Annapolis Wherry Sliding-Seat Rower (18 feet) 
Expedition Wherry open water sliding-seat rower (18 feet)
Chester Yawl whitehall pulling boat (15 feet) 
Oxford Shell recreational rowing shell (20 feet) 
Skerry double-ended daysailer (15 feet) 
Passagemaker rowing-sailing dinghy (12 feet) 
Northeaster Dory rowing-sailing dory (17 feet) 
Eastport Pram rowing-sailing dinghy (8 feet) 
PocketShip (a 15 foot pocket cruiser) 

Sorry, power boats aren't allowed at the park, so if you want to see the Peeler Skiff or Cocktail Class Racer, you'll have to visit us on Friday at the shop. The same is true for our one-offs like the Faering Cruiser and some of our strip-planked classic Greenland kayaks.